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If the title of this article gave you anxiety; you are not alone. Outlining your WIP can be done so many different ways, and I’m here to relax you a bit and tell you; you do NOT need to outline your story. Pretty awesome, right? Here’s my take on it.
There are a few different ways to start writing a story and there is not one correct way of doing it. No matter what others have told you. Even when I was in high school and college, they always made us do outlines. Everything needed a damn outline. But to me, it’s just like math. While there are many different categories of math, the two examples I will use are Algebra and Geometry. Personally, I hate math with a burning passion, but if I were to choose one over another, it would be Geometry. Everyone I’ve asked, comparing which one they would prefer, they would give me a definite answer. “Geometry, definitely,” or “Algebra, all the way.” Yes, I know, they are two totally different areas in math. But my point is, one comes more easily to them than the other.
Mathematical Approach = Algebra = Outlining / Visual Approach = Geometry = Free-Hand
It’s the same with prepping your story. Outlining can be very useful; if you know how to do it properly. If you don’t know how to do it the right way though, it can just be a hindrance or quite possibly make you dread continuing on. I’m not hating on anyone who chooses to do an outline. As a matter of fact, you’re probably really great at it and tell everyone to do it! And that’s fine.
There is a term known in the writing world called “pantsing.” This basically means you do not outline at all and just write. Let the story come to you. This is what I do. Even though I consider myself a fairly organized person, this is how I prefer to write. I don’t always know every single detail of the story, especially if it’s a novel, with almost 100 thousands words. There’s simply too much to know at the starting process. The ideas flow through me as I free-write and sometimes it’s hard to stop. The only “downfall” might be that you need to edit more, but you need to edit after any first draft. Whether it’s outlined or pantsing.
However, a technique that I do is a little of both of these techniques. Let’s call it “loose outlining.” I use Google Docs to write everything (cause it saves every 3 minutes or so and is a serious lifesaver) and I’m able to create several documents. I have these documents labeled into their own special categories.
The first document is for characters. I type out as much detail as possible for each character, including: characteristics, behavior, goals and appearance. This is a good thing to have as well for a quick reference. Forget what eye color they have? Refer to your character guide.
The next one is for scenes. Mostly, major scenes. Events that I already know will happen in the main story line (and sub-plot too). After you begin to really write your story from the beginning, these are as easy as pie to copy and paste where you want them. You can even do scenes that aren’t major. If you know of a silly conversation you want between two of your characters, write it out. The more, the better.
The last is ‘writers choice.’ I use this one for flashbacks for my MC. This document can be for anything that doesn’t really fit the other two categories. This could even be used for all your sub-plots if your story is so complex that one document for every scene is too much. Do whatever you want.
Bonus: Make another document for your over all story. What I mean by this is, make a ‘mock-up’ summary of the story you haven’t written yet. Just write it out. Doesn’t have to be pretty, or organized, just write out what you picture happening in the story, especially the ending. It helps to know how it all ends.
After you have everything planned out, you’re ready to start writing your book! You then just place your scenes you already wrote out where you want them, like a puzzle! Everyone loves puzzles, right? Of course you do.
If you have been putting off your WIP for far too long because you just can’t get your outline perfected, have no fear! You’re no less of a writer or creative mind if you just can’t make one. Your brain just works differently. And different is not bad.
Let me know if you have struggles in this area; we writers need to stick together! Also, if you have any tip or tricks of your own, please put them in the comments below. I would love to see your process! ##
Hello everyone! This post will be a little different than usual, but I wanted to give an update on what’s been going on with me lately. (Prepare for blabbing)
I would usually do this on a video, but you may know that my mind can often wander off and I loose track of what I want to really talk about. This way, I can organize my thoughts and say what I want more accurately. (Makes sense why I became a writer, now.)
Firstly, I am in the last two classes of my Associates Program in Graphic Design; graduating in August (because someone missed the deadline for May…) So, a big reason why I am not on here, or writing very much right now is because of those classes that I’m trying to focus on. It didn’t help either that about a week ago I lost my flash drive that had a huge project I was working on. My fault for not having a back-up, but still. I left it at school of all places and someone took it. That alone made my anxiety spike because not only did I have art working, and writings, I am not 100% sure if it had tax forms on it, too. When my identity is stolen, I guess we’ll find out for sure! Plus, it had things for Fliers on it and I’m never going to get them back. I’m still upset about it, but, can’t do anything about it now…
I also joined Snapchat! If you want to add me, feel free. But just know, I rarely go on because I just don’t get you kids in your fancy phone apps. You can find me under ‘lauramaeauthor’.
I would love to see snaps of my book though, if you purchased it. I’ll ‘snap’ ya back! 🙂
Keep in mind, I am also on FB and Instagram and I am much more active on there.
My latest OBSESSION is tomatoes. I’ve always liked tomatoes since I was a kid, especially the little cherry tomatoes my mom used to grow in her garden. Just pluck ’em off and pop ’em in your mouth. So juicy and tangy. But like, lately, I eat/drink something tomato every single day. Any time I’m at the grocery store I have to pick up a few. I like to slice a whole tomato and put sea salt and parsley on top and eat it with breakfast. I eat it with a fork (most of the time). I have also been drinking Bloody Mary’s like they were just invented. There is always at least one bottle of V-8 handy, and all of the ingredients. (I make the best bloody mary’s by the way… hint: use dill pickle juice.) And lastly, I have been eating tortilla chips and salsa like crazy. It’s like my go-to snack when I get home from work. I’ve gobbled up an entire jar of salsa in one sitting. Seriously, I think I have a problem…
If you watched my Book Reveal video, you may have noticed that I was glasses-less. I just came into a new pair of contacts and I was so excited to not be wearing glasses anymore. If you didn’t know, I’ve only been wearing glasses for the past 3 years. Before that I was wearing contacts since I was 13? 14? Something like that. But about 3 years ago, I was done with wearing them, cause they would always bother me, and stuff would get in them. I just stuck with glasses; it was easier. When I got my tax return this year, I told myself I wanted to try contacts again. So I did. The place I went to was America’s Best. I’ve been there multiple times and it’s always been… okay. But this time was the last. Once my appointment was over, I talked to the lady about making sure I was getting the best contacts. (I wear hard ones, and the more expensive ones are worth it) I asked the woman, and she didn’t know what I was talking about, so she went to ask the doctor. He ended up telling her that he would have to look into and give me a call later. Well, I got no calls whatsoever. So I call about 2 weeks later asking what was going on. They were confused on what I was even talking about. And I think I waited a couple days for them to get ‘unconfused’ and I went into the store directly. I asked to just buy whatever contacts; I didn’t care. So the ‘Contacts Manager’ ordered me a pair and it was shipped to my house. Story over, right? Wrong.
I wore the contacts for a few days, and I could see way better, but they were irritating. I just took them out. I called the store to ask for a refund because I was unable to be comfortable in them. The woman on the phone told me to come in for an appt. (???) So I did, and I spoke to the eye doctor I had the first time. His answer was quick once he looked over my chart. He said “The contacts they (the ‘Contacts Manager’) ordered for you were the ones from 3 years ago. That brand is old and outdated… I’ll have them get you the new ones.” I rolled my eyes, but I said that was fine.
THREE WEEKS GO BY. I haven’t had a single effing call from anyone. So I call them. I ask where my contacts are. The lady on the phone says, “Well it looks like we put the order in for you on Friday.” (It was Monday of the next week; I ordered the replacement 3 weeks ago) I’m sure you can tell by now I was pretty pissed. So I went in the store and asked for a direct refund. The ‘Eyeglass Manager’ was not management-like at all, didn’t even introduce herself to me, just sat down across from me and stared. Like, where am I?! But luckily, I was able to get my full money back.
Just a little advice, when going to an eye doctor, go to a REAL eye doctor; not a retail store.
Anywho… that’s what’s been going on with me. I know, it’s really exciting. I don’t know how I deal with all of the agents wanting to cast me on reality shows. 😉 See ya! ##
“Come on Frankie, I need to get a dress today. Before all the good ones disappear…” Jill whines in the passengers side seat of my car.
“Yeah,” my friend Valerie adds. “The mall’s gonna be closing soon.”
I roll my eyes and blow the black bangs out of my face as I drive down the road. I hate high school, and Jill a constant reminder why. Sometimes I wish Jill and Valerie would both consider more important issues, than getting a fucking dress for prom. We’ve all been twice already, so I was just sick of dances at this point. They are always filled with guys who only want sex, or alcohol, or both. Usually both. College is just around the corner and I know the guys there are way more mature; at least in my experience. My older brother attends ‘U of A’ and I went to visit him once, and–well–let’s just say, I wish I could graduate early.
“Frank, turn here! You’re gonna miss it!” Jill turns my wheel a hard right into the mall driveway.
“Are you crazy?!” I yell as a car honks at me for reckless driving.
I put my arm out the window as an apology. “Such a bitch.”
“Hey, you’re the one not paying attention, ho bag,” she said.
Valerie popped her head up front. “Jill, cut it out. You know Frances doesn’t care for malls.”
“Whatever. Just park here,” she demanded.
I parked, but not where she wanted me to park. I swear, if she wasn’t my step dad’s daughter…
I walk a distance behind Jill with Valerie, my oldest friend. She’s been around since the beginning of high school, and her and I are both going to the same college. I guess she really likes me too, because she’s super smart. She could’ve gone in anywhere in the country.
We follow Jill inside and go through the automatic doors. The place is deserted. It’s Friday night though, so I’m not sure why it’s so empty. Shops blind me with their neon sale signs, and deafen me with blaring music that seems to not have anything but beats and auto tune. Getting me ready for prom, I guess.
As we walk through the halls of stores, a few kiosk booths line up in the middle. They’ve always reminded me of the crap that regular stores can never sell. So they pick the most attractive but persistent sales people to plop in front of them. Makes me wonder if harassment and asking random questions to strangers is listed on their resumes. Because what other self-respecting person would ever want that kind of job?
“Miss! Miss, can I speak with you for just a minute?” a man in his early thirties ran up to me and Valerie.
“No, thanks,” I answer without hesitation.
“Oh, come on, I have some great perfume here! I think you would love it!”
I roll my eyes at Valerie and she does the same. Jill is way a head of us now, but then looks back when she notices we aren’t her shadow anymore.
“Hey, guys! Come on!” she barks.
This was a once in a lifetime chance to ditch the evil step-sister. And if that involves me buying a thousand dollars worth of perfume to get her out of my face, so be it.
“Sorry, Jill! We’ll be right there. Just go on without us!” I yell back with a fake smile.
She huffs off and walks even faster down the line of stores.
Valerie laughs and looks at me for an explanation.
“Let’s try some damn perfume!” I exclaim and walk back to the tall, tan skinned, man with gorgeous black hair.
“Great!” he flashes his perfect white teeth. “Try this one. I know you’ll love it.”
He squirts the fragrance on both of our wrists. As I move my hand up to take in the flowery perfume, I notice a much different smile creeping up his jaw line. I inhale it deep into my lungs, and as I try to distinguish the notes, something strange falls over me.
My eyes go blurry around the edges, making my bangs almost disappear and the salesman’s face the only thing in my line of vision. With every blink, it felt like a lifetime to open my lids again. I slowly turn to face Valerie to see if she was experiencing the same, and her expression reminds me of a woman trapped inside her own body, but has no control over it. I rub my fingers together, but I feel nothing. My skin crawls with numbness. I look around the area, but everyone walking by notice nothing out of the ordinary; and keep going.
I stare at the kiosk man who then grabs my hand and leads me down a corridor of the mall. What the fuck did he give to us? Why is it doing this to our bodies? My mind races with the worst thoughts imaginable. The man keeps looking back to make sure he isn’t being followed. My feet willingly follow him, but I’m not sure why. Am I a puppet and he’s the master? That analogy is so bad I could barf; if I was able too, that is.
I need to get out of this, but how? How long does this last? I need to control my body again; and get out of this prison. I glare at the back of his head, picturing myself head butting him, but he’s way too tall for that. Can kicking him work? I can try to sweep my feet under his and make him trip. I attempt to pick up my knees, just to experiment if I can move them in a way to prepare for a kick. But no matter how hard I try, they keep going the motions of a walk.
His hand. He’s holding my hand. Desperate to get away from the psychopath, I use all of my strength to pull his hand back. He looks back, directly at me. Did I do it? His face looks confused as if I moved in a way he didn’t like. He then grips my hand harder and all I could feel was pressure. We were moving faster now; running. I can smell the outside air, fresh and clear. Where the hell is he taking us?
We get to a car and he shoves us into the back seat. I look over to see Valerie with tears falling down her cheeks, but still wearing a vacant expression. The look on my best friends face will haunt me for the rest of my life; however long that is. What I wouldn’t give to see that bitch, Jill right about now. What I wouldn’t do to worry about mundane things like dresses and parking places…
“Looks like it’s wearing off quicker than I thought. Better get you home, quick,” the man said to us from the drivers seat. He then lets out this creepy, cliche, murdery laugh. It may have been cheesy, but it sends a chill down my spine, nonetheless. He’s going to kill us. I move my hand over to Valerie’s, assuming I touched it and I curl my fingers around hers.
I look over to my right, out the window and who do I see? Fucking Jill. Beautiful, perfect, wonderful Jill. She’s yelling and running over to the car. Her ear shattering screaming sounds like a fine tuned grand piano to me. She attempts to open the car doors, but he’s locked them. I watch her as she continues to shout loudly, cursing more than every sailor in existence. She may not be able to get into the car, but she’s sure attracting a lot of attention. She then scrambles through her giant purse and pulls out what looks to be a pocket knife. Before the kiosk man could pull out of the parking space, Jill stabs a tire with her knife.
The man panics as he realizes what she’s doing and spins his tires, trying to take off. But just before he does this, Jill was able to slash another tire. I will think twice before crossing her now. I mean, shit…
Her tactic works as his car rolls to a stop. The man eventually surrenders and gets out of the car. Several people gather around, trying to figure out what happened. Where the hell were all these people when we were kidnapped? Valerie and I step out of the car and Jill immediately hugs us.
“You guys okay? Did he hurt you?” Jill asks. Her face does not resemble her resting bitch face, but more of a concerning bitch face.
“We’re okay,” I say softly, regaining my vocals again.
We left the scene as cops pulled in to arrest the guy. What an asshole. He has something else to add to his outstanding resume now; kidnapping teenage girls. The three of us walk closely together back to the safety of my Buick Lacrosse.
“What are we doing?” Jill asked shortly. “I never got my dress, ’cause I was busy trying to find you guys.”
I stare back blankly at her. “Are you kidding me?”
Jill laughs. “No! I still need a dress for prom!”
I roll my eyes and keep walking. Where’s that fucking ‘puppet perfume’ when you need it.
This short story brought to you by this meme: